Heritage restaurant review: Swiss indulgence in Soho
Enjoy cheesy classics in surroundings that are anything but
Heritage, which has just opened its doors a few steps from Leicester Square, touts itself as the London’s first modern Swiss restaurant - presumably in contrast to the cowbell kitsch of St Moritz, a Soho institution on nearby Wardour Street.
Indeed, unlike the faux-chalet decor you might find at other restaurants offering Alpine fare, Heritage pays only the classiest of tributes to its Swiss roots. Dark wood paneling acts as a sophisticated nod to Switzerland’s famous ski lodges, while eye-catching retro Montreux Jazz Festival posters mounted on the walls honour one of the country’s best-known cultural exports.
The menu, the brainchild of Canadian head chef Aarik Persaud - formerly of Chewton Glen, among others - promises a similarly upmarket take on Alpine classics like rosti, raclette and fondue.
But first, a drink at the bar, where - in our first sniff of luxury ahead - ice cubes are stamped with the restaurant’s crest.
The bar’s take on the negroni, garnished not with the traditional orange peel but with a fragrant bouquet of thyme and sage wrapped in a sliver of lemon peel, is an outstanding experience for the nose as well as the mouth.
Aperitif over, we are shown to our table. From the moment we walked through the door, the service was outstanding striking that elusive balance between courteous professionalism and relaxed warmth so often skewed on the upmarket dining scene.
Guided by our sommelier’s recommendations, we opt for a prié blanc from the Alpine-orientated wine list. The fresh and nutty white, from Cave Mont Blanc in the Aosta valley, proves the perfect counterpoint to the rich fare before us.
It would hardly be a Swiss feast without a rosti, so we start with a particularly indulgent version, topped with maple-glazed Dingley Dell lardons and tomette de brebis cheese.
Another standout from the small plates section is the lobster and roasted fennel tart, bursting with succulent lobster meat and creamy with milk tomme.
Next up, we reach the jewel in the crown of Swiss cuisine: fondue. The concoction itself - an unctuous umami blend of raclette and emmental, laced with a white wine reduction, and charmingly served in a dinky copper pot - is delectable. But almost as delicious (and I never thought I would write this) is the accompanying plate of vegetables, a gleaming plate of rainbow heritage carrots and tomatoes, baby courgettes, radishes and linzer potatoes.
The last strings of fondue greedily gobbled down, we have now reached the star of the show: the charbonnade, a do-it-yourself affair in which an impressive miniature barbeque is placed on the table for diners to cook their choice of beef or lobster as they please.
We plump for the chateaubriand option, and are soon merrily grilling strips of delicate pink strips of Dedham Vale beef.
This feast is accompanied by three sauces, including a homemade mustard, and sides of hispi cabbage scattered with crispy ham, and potato gratin “Le Museum”, named for the iconic Montreux restaurant from which the recipe takes its inspiration.
After this epic trek through Switzerland’s culinary foothills, you’ll forgive us if we skipped the dessert menu. Maybe next time - and there definitely will be a next time.
Heritage, 18-20 Rupert St, Soho; heritagerestaurant.co.uk